Hendrik Nicolaas Azon Jacometti (*1926)
My youth: 1926-1940
I was born in 1926, in Rotterdam/Hillegersberg (on the Berglustlaan), the third child of my parents. I had two older sisters, Jacoba Nicoletta (Coty), born in 1919, and Albertine Henriette (Ties), born in 1923.
I never knew either of my grandfathers, only knew Oma Pouts and Oma Jaco.
I do not remember my father ever telling me anything about
his parents or grandparents and relatives. Nor can I remember having
heard such stories from the Oma's.
Oma Pouts, Cornelia Tigler Wybrandi, came to live in Scheveningen (Den Haag) around 1930. She lived with "zuster Anna", a redhaired nurse, in a street near the remise of the Haagse Tramweg Maatschappij (H.T.M.). She had, I remember, a large collection of tin soldiers. She later moved to the Gevers Deynootweg in Scheveningen. During the war she had to move in with us at the Bezuidenhoutseweg 480 in Marlot, Den Haag. She died there in 1946, when I was just 20.
My father had studied law in Leiden, he started in 1914. He then worked for Slavenburgs Bank. The head office of that bank was in Schiedam, where Thijs Slavenburg himself lived. The branch Rotterdam, where my father was director, was at the Diergaardelaan. [This part of Rotterdam has been razed, after the bombing at the start of WW II, and is completely gone.] I remember getting a haircut in the Bijenkorf in Rotterdam, and visiting my father at the Diergaardelaan where he showed me how door of the bank vault was opened. This must have been when I was four or so.
My mother was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, living with the family on "Het Instituut" (a boarding school). They had moved 1909 to Bloemendaal (suburb of Haarlem) near the dune "Het Kopje", after her father had died. She married my father in 1919, being 24. Later, we often went out to a restauranrt on that wedding date.
My time in elementary school (at the Adriaan van der Doeslaan) I remember only vaguely. There was meneer Hoogendorp, the head master of the school. We sang an "aubade" with the school children in front of the townhall on "Koninedag" (Queens Birthday). In an operette performed in the "schouwburg Lommerrijk", on a "peninsula" in the "Bergse Plassen" (the local lakes), I played the "kanneman". In it we sang: "Wij kinderen van Modderstad, wij houden volstrekt niet van een bad, in wassen hebben wij geen plezier en om poetsen geven wij geen zier" (we children of Mud-City, we do not like to have a bath, washing does not give us pleasure, and scrubbing is not our thing). I must have been about seven or eight. This school often organised musicals.
My best friends there were Harry Bodee and Pietje Vervoort.
From the time in Rotterdam I remember several people that were close
to my parents. I mention a few.
Another good friend was oom Henry de Voogt, who also was a clubmember from Leiden; he later built, near Haarlem, many boats (especially for rich customers, royalty). One of these was the Iduna (see image), and on her we sailed along a bit on the "Kaagse Plassen". His son Frits still builds boats mainly for the oil magnates in the middle east.
Some time in the middle 1930s we moved to The Hague, in Marlot, at the Bezuidenhoutseweg, Nr 480. The house was bought mostly with my mothers money.
Mams was just a full-on mother.
One phrase I remember vividly, from when we children did something
nice or pleasing. She would say, full of admiration:
"Maar kind, maar kind, wat is dat prachtig"
(oh child, o child what is that marvellous).
When we lived in Marlot, Mams and I went together,
me in a race canoe and Mams in the big one complete with a small tent,
on the water the Wetering, on the Vliet to Leiden,
on the Oude Rijn to Vianen.
There were Boskoopse freight barges, who Mams asked to tow her,
good rides along, with me hanging on her canoe.
I remember also going to Gouda on that trip.
We were peddalling over large patches of "kroos" (duck weed),
finally along a corner and found that we could not go on because there
was a railway dike in the way. So we had to pull the canoes over the
railway dike and tracks and then canoed on
to a cheesemakers paddock with bulls. She was a Mother!!!
We moved to Marlot, a suburb to the north-east of Den Haag. I must have been in Marlot elementary school 1934 or 36 or so. I went with Ties along the Leidse Straatweg in Wassenaar looking for horse chestnuts. I climbed the tree while Ties collected them. A police officer came along and Ties told me to come down fast... fast alright, I stepped on a dead branch and came down. Ambulance, home, Mams in tears asking: is he dead? Percussion... have never been the same!!! No wonder I have blurred recollections.
Next to our house was a piece of unused land, with gras, shrubs and a tree. It was not large, and it was called "Tiengemeten" after an island in South Holland said to measure 10 acres. It was nice to roam there! With my friend Wim van Dijk we once collected a "bruinvis", hung it in a tree there to keep the cats as well as Hanneke de Lint's dog Herta away from the fish. The whole neighboorhood suffered the mighty stink....
Paps worked in Rotterdam and mams brought him, in the morning, to the tram station for his trip to work. Paps came to watch me playing hockey at "Klein Zwitserland" in The Hague. Paps himself played hockey in Bloemendaal, with the club of his younger years. Later he played soccer in Rotterdam even although we lived in Marlot. I recall Bettina, the black sheep of the family, staying with us in Marlot, curing a damaged muscle of Paps collected in a Saturday soccer game. Bettina, who lived at Capri, was a woman with many intriguing skills, herbs and potions. She had one son Luca, by an italian admiral, lived with Franco of Spain during the revolution and had been in jail in Cairo. There was a brother, my "Ingenieur" Uncle Albert, who spent years in the Dutch Indies, working on railways, and known to be involved with the "manzarde kap" (wide but not high roofs) installed at railway stations; he lived in Amsterdam. And Tante Ade, Paps sister, married to accountant Jan Deenink, living on het Kenau Park Haarlem, where we stayed on "Oud and Nieuw" (New Years Eve). They had a son (Mark) married to Lilo who, I think, was involved with the publisher Elsevier.
War time: 1940-1945
When I was 14, The Netherlands were invaded by the german army. Thus for The netherlands, WW II started. This included the bombing of Rotterdam.
I remember that not long after that fire and after most of the rubble was bulldosed away, Paps had to go to Rotterdam to open the vault and retrieve important documents, if any were still available. Paps also retrieved the "Bul" of his Leiden University title; I still have it, the lacquer has melted and the document is glued up. And I still have the Jaarboeken (yearbooks) of Paps' club "The Lyons", of "The Novitii", also the booklet created on the occasion of him, in January 1919, obtaining the official title of Master of Law ("Mr.").
Marlot was taken over by the german army in 1940.
There were many Jews living in Marlot.
The Pintos, Kats, Frenkle and many more disappeared on the day of the invasion.
Their houses, and "het flatgebouw" (the apartment building),
were taken by the germans soldiers with all their possesions.
Because the immediate coastal region had to be vacated,
including part of Scheveningen were Oma Pouts her house was,
she came to live with us in Marlot.
At night the V-2s were hoisted up along large oak trees (in winter the soil frozen), alcohol was pumped in for fuel and they were shot off to Britain. With the firy tail going up I could see the shadow on the ceiling moving down to the floor and go away. Not always did they go, perhaps because the soil was not hard enough, and they lay there for a while, sluttering, and then explode. Those were scary moments. I had to race around the windows to loosen the clamps to save our glass in the explosion to come, that is, what was left in the windows. During the day the guns of the planes shot at the german occupied buildings, while some times people came running from the street to our door for shelter in our cellar. One time a trader with a horse and cart abandonned his horse, which was killed by the gunfire. One man was so frightened that he wetted his pants in our cellar, while others prayed. Coming outside when the raid was over, people took some meat from the dead horse.... people were hungry !!
Yes, during the later years of the war we had hunger indeed, especially in 1944/45, like many people in the Holland provinces. Food was rationed but there was way too little. I once cut a tree down for a woman in the neighboorhood and she gave me a tin of sardines, which we shared, Ties and Mams and Paps. For food, Mams went out to the farmers in the countryside with diamond rings and might come home with potatoes. Paps suffered hunger oedemia, but he survived.
In The Netherlands, especially in Holland, regular life slowly was abandoned. I could no longer go to school and had, as an "able young man", to hide ("onderduiken") for the german occupiers. I mostly stayed in Marlot but had to be watchfull for raids. The photo of me was taken in about 1943. As of 1944 we lived above the bank offices in The Hague, Marlot had become too dangerous. Here I learned to play the clarinet for a while.
After the war, I had to catch up schooling. That did not go well at home. After those years of "freedom" for me as youngster, I did not fit in well any more. My father called a friend and teacher in Bussum to help and so I went there. I went to the "Baarns Lyceum". I was in the "gymnasium" branch at the lyceum, in which I had to learn the languages german, english, french as well as latin and greek. I again played hockey, was soon in the 1st team of the Baarnse Hockey Club. Thereafter I played in the club at Laaren. In those years I saw much of our family friends, the Brouwers and others.
After high school: 1947-1950
Having received the Diploma (in 1947), I went on a tour through Europe. We had little in material for on the road. With my friend, Jan Knoppers, we had bought a blanket, painted that black, then cut it up to make something like trousers without pockets and with a flap up front, held up by two round buttons.
Already in Breda (southern Netherlands), where we were awkwardly walking on our new klompen, danish tourists descending from their bus took pictures of us. The whole trip was "auto-stop" (french for hitch-hike). We were in Paris. Later we also were in Bordeaux. Here our clothing drew attention as well. We were called (or called ourselves) "Hollandais laveurs" (streetwashers). A photo taken appeared in the newspaper there. In town, there was a bar run by "Piet" who was willing to put us up. There, people offered us drinks, which we accepted (but had agreed with Piet to just serve us cold tea). Piet made in this way some extra earnings. But we also accepted the real drinks. In addition we washed the street in front of his place so that it brille bientôt comme un mirroir ("shone like a mirror"; see text with photo).
The trip continued to the Côte 'd Azur and on to Switserland, where the photo at right was taken on the Furka Pass (me at left, Jan at right). [A year later, Jan Knoppers made a similar trip with another friend of mine, Eelco Boswijk, who was wearing my suit but of course had fitting clogs.]
Java was for me a completely new part of the world: tropical vegetation and rice sawahs. In the distance there were volcanoes. And we had earthquakes. Often, on military patrol, did we see and feel undulating land (also the trees waved), but there was no ash, only disruptions of the padi in the sawahs.
But the time in the military was heavy duty. When on patrol, we might be shot at. And then we shot back. Whether I killed people I cannot know for sure, for, if a person in a rice paddy disappears, he may have been hit or just threw away his weapon and hid behind the rice plants. [The photos shown are from the Surabaja area, 1947-1949, taken from internet archives (left, right);
Once I flew from Surabaya to Batavia to visit my uncle Henk Poutsma,
my mothers brother, who lived there, working for the company called Internatio.
I flew in a military plane. It was terribly cold!
These planes had no insulation and at 3000 m altitude
the outside air is, also in the tropics, already very cold.
1950: Emigration to New Zealand
After the military service in the Dutch Indies I came back to The Netherlands. Things had changed there, and I probably had changed, too. My girlfriend had left me for somebody else, I was very down. My father had tried to organise a job for me, something with the Shell company, but I did not like that. In all, I wanted to get away. And so I did.
As country for my emigration I had choosen New Zealand,
which for dutchmen was a popular destination at that time.
In Sydney, I met up with former "mariniers" from military service on Java. I stayed there for about 3 months, cleaning a newspaper building, making fondant for Onslow and selling "Pura-Mock" (it was some fake cream of the Pura dairy company) to corner dairies. Then I took a passenger ship, servicing Australia and New Zealand, to Auckland, the "Wanganella" (see picture). (Much later, in New Zealand, we owned a boat which I called Wanganella.) I hitch hiked from Auckland on the North Island to my goal, Amberly, north of Christchurch on the South Island. A friend of ours, Henk Kraaivanger, knew Harold Greenwood (1886-1972), who lived in Amberly. I had a letter of recommendation that said that I was not just a farmer(s boy) but well educated. I arrived at Amberly November 1951, a year later than originally planned and expected.
The first months in New Zealand
My job at the Greenwoods was to mend things but there was also plowing involved. Mr Greenwood also owned a race horse. I had to call the daughters of the house "Miss Daphne", etc. But I was allowed access to their library, which was good at long evenings.
At Harold Greenwood I worked for a number of months.
Harold Greenwood was the first man who was my boss.
I had never worked for wages in my life
(except with the Marines, and the £ 4,10 a week in Australia).
It was the beginning of being frugal and saving as much as possible.
My job was mending chaf bags (into which the rats made holes)
and tractor driving, "tedding" the hay in the paddocks.
"Gloaming", the famous N.Z. race horse,
was bred as well as burried there.
The "Groom" suggested me to ask Mr. Greenwood
to put some of my wages on the horses the Groom would indicate to me.
My small investments paid off.
But I did not stay there long,
because I learned I would never own land working on it.
So I went to Christchurch.
Henkie married twice.
1. x 28-04-1953 Christchurch (New Zealand)
2. x 02-1973 Christchurch (New Zealand)
Aprilla Margaret Harriet Stanford,
*12-04-1939 Kaikura (NZ).
Back to the genealogy of Henkie Jacometti.
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